Back when Shaun “Talcum X” King insisted every column he wrote for the New York Daily News was one of the most important things he’d written in his entire life, he tried to cancel “The Star-Spangled Banner” by blowing the lid of its racist third verse, which included the line, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave.” Plenty of people stepped up, though, and explained that “slave” in that context referred to the kidnapping of American seamen who were then forced into service on British ships. Not too much later, a statue of Francis Scott Key in Cincinnatti was splattered with red paint and vandalized with the words, “Racist anthem.”

Oh, and the California chapter of the NAACP passed a resolution at its state conference in 2017 pushing for the removal of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem, calling it “one of the most racist, pro-slavery, anti-black songs in the American lexicon.”

And one more thing: The NFL has said it will play the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games the first week of the season.

We’ve already heard John Lennon’s communist manifesto set to music, aka “Imagine,” suggested as a replacement for the national anthem, but Jody Rosen has another idea: Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.”

So what’s wrong with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” besides it being racist? Rosen writes:

… there are also arguments against “The Star-Spangled Banner” on aesthetic grounds, criticisms that have dogged the anthem for decades. For one thing, it’s not an especially American song. Its lyrics are ornate and Anglophile, with syntax that frustrates the efforts of normal human Americans to follow along — to deduce who or what, exactly, is gleaming and streaming.

A song with words few people understand, which fewer can sing, whose sound and spirit bear no relation to our catchy, witty, unpretentious homegrown musical forms: Is this really what we want to hear when we “rise to honor America”?

Yes. And saying it has lyrics “few people understand” really is as condescending as you can get. So why “Lean on Me” and not “Imagine”? “It is a song that holds its gaze steady at the level of everyday life. It says: What’s important is the stuff happening down here. The dramatis personae are you, me, all of us. We the people,” Rosen writes.

“Imagine” is definitely out of the question, and “Lean on Me?” Just no.

No, progressives only want statues of Confederates taken down. That’s it. OK, and maybe Mount Rushmore.

Good.

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